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Sci-Tech

Fly through 100 million stars with 4K video of NASA Andromeda image

A video fly-through of a high-definition image of the Andromeda Galaxy helps put the vastness of the universe in perspective.

Hubble image of Andromeda cropped
A cropped portion of the Hubble image of Andromeda. NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team and R. Gendler

NASA released a fascinating high-definition panoramic view of a portion of the Andromeda Galaxy. The Hubble Space Telescope captured the image, which uses 7,398 exposures to build a mosaic of the galaxy next door. This is the biggest image ever compiled of the Andromeda Galaxy, but it covers so much ground, it's hard to absorb and appreciate the insane level of detail.

To better take advantage of the super-high-resolution image, Reddit user floatyverve decided to transform it into a video fly-through set to dramatic music. If your computer is up to the task, you can set the video to play in 4K. Even if you settle for 1080P, you're still in for a treat. Crank it up to full screen, dim the lights and sit back and take it all in.

Floatyverve sets the stage by kicking off the video with an image taken from Earth before zooming in on the piece of Andromeda covered by the mosaic. As you close in, take a moment to appreciate how all those dots, like pieces of pointillism, are stars. Each one represents unknown possibilities, planets, mysteries.

The panorama covers a 61,000-light-year-long span of Andromeda. NASA notes there are more than 100 million stars in the image. "It's like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand," says NASA. It helps that Andromeda is "only 2.5 million light-years away from Earth." That's far away, but not nearly as far as some of the galaxies Hubble is watching, which are billions of light-years from here.

Your reaction to the video will depend on your perspective. It may inspire awe, humility, wonder or even a bit of fear at the vastness of the universe. No matter what, it's an experience worth having.